Businesses operating in Perth’s Old High Street have hit out at the council, claiming they have not been consulted about a controversial decision to close the road for up to 18 months.
Planners say it is necessary due to the amount of work required at St Paul’s Church to transform the B-listed derelict building into an open space for community use.
In a briefing note on repair and development works at St Paul’s Church, it confirms the Old High Street will be closed for the “duration” of the £2million project – estimated to be between 12 to 18 months.
It also claims the council’s project team and contractor are liaising with local businesses. This is disputed by several shop owners.
David Gill, owner of Perth City Kilts, said if the council is stating they’ve consulted local businesses then “that’s a lie.”
“Nobody from the council has told us how long the street is going to be closed and 18 months is a long time,” he said.
“Many people walking over to the Old High Street from the High Street see the fences up and wrongly assume the whole road is closed and just go away.”
“The aim is to take part of the roof so I realise it’s a big job and needs done, but we’ll just have to struggle on.”
John Buntin, co-owner of country sports specialist PD Malloch, said: “I feel the communication could have been better from the council over this.
“Obviously, the area is still pedestrianised so people can walk by but it would have been nice to have been told about the street closure.”
Staff from toy shop Fun Junction said they had no warning at all that the Old High Street would be closed, and are concerned about the impact it will have on their business.
“We knew nothing about the street being closed,” one employee said.
“Deliveries can still be made at the side of our shop but we reckon communication could have been better.
“It’s definitely going to affect our business – no doubt about it.”
Workers at the Manna House said delivery lorries were having to reverse back up the Old High Street
The council took over St Paul’s Church in February and appointed a project team and contractor to carry out essential repair works, including removing loose slates and vegetation.
The council’s briefing note details further work including removing bird droppings and dead birds from the site, securing ceilings, gallery and roof areas and erecting a scaffold ‘wrap.’
Internal pews, gallery and fittings will be cleared and asbestos removed. The council proposals include the removal of the existing roof and opening up the portals through the Gothic arch windows.
Councillor Ian Miller, leader of Perth and Kinross Council, said: “We hope that once finished this space will be a game changer for the top of the High Street – it will be versatile and unique. We hope it will be used for public performances, markets and any other event that can utilise it and help bring people to the city centre.”